What Is The Sequence Of Blood Flow Through The Kidneys What Are You Holding Your Breath For? Let it Go For Lower Blood Pressure and Better Health

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What Are You Holding Your Breath For? Let it Go For Lower Blood Pressure and Better Health

Are you often stressed, anxious or angry? Are you choking on the words you really want to say to your boss, spouse, or co-workers—if only you were freed? If so (and who among us doesn’t feel that way from time to time?), chances are you’re holding your breath.

You probably don’t even realize it… but it should be! Holding your breath, along with fast, irregular and shallow breathing, are not only unpleasant, but transient reactions to stress; can seriously damage your health.

The researchers noted that such “inhibitory breathing” is a common reaction to emotions such as stress, anxiety and anger. The common advice to “take a deep breath” in such circumstances is a clear indication of this, but we usually don’t stop to consider the connection between our breathing and our emotional states.

Inhibited breathing is not always related to emotions. Some people may develop unhealthy breathing habits in childhood, which they carry into adulthood without even realizing it. Regardless of the cause, the danger is that when obstructive breathing becomes chronic, it can contribute to a number of health problems including hypertension, a particularly dangerous condition.

dr. David Anderson, a researcher and hypertension specialist at the National Institutes of Health, believes that inhibited breathing raises blood pressure by throwing off blood chemistry. It does this by destabilizing the levels of gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitric oxide in our blood, making it more acidic. This makes the kidneys less efficient at pumping out sodium, which in turn increases blood pressure.

Nitric oxide plays a particularly important role in this process. Little known gas (not the same as nitrous nitrous oxide or laughing gas), nitric oxide is responsible for regulating blood flow by constricting or dilating blood vessels. Low levels of nitric oxide cause blood vessels to constrict, raising blood pressure, while higher levels dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

Nitric oxide is produced by our cells, and it is especially abundant in the nasal airways. Slow and deep breathing, especially through the nose, helps deliver the gas to the lungs and thus to the bloodstream. In contrast, rapid, irregular breathing or no breathing reduces the amount of nitric oxide in the blood resulting in an increase in blood pressure.

These are just a few of the main ways breathing affects our blood pressure. There are many other connections involving emotional states, stress hormones, and other physiological processes. The connection between our respiratory and circulatory systems is powerful and complex.

The implication is clear: if rapid, irregular, and shallow breathing can raise your blood pressure, it follows that slow, regular, and deep breathing can lower it. And the clinical evidence shows just that. A method called simple “slow breathing” practiced for just 10 to 15 minutes a day has been shown to produce significant and lasting drops in blood pressure.

No difficulty breathing? The benefits of slow breathing have been shown to be effective in controlling high blood pressure from a variety of causes. In fact, slow breathing is quickly becoming the go-to method not only for naturally lowering blood pressure, but also for treating stress and anxiety disorders.

While slow breathing for just a few minutes a day can help counteract the devastating effects of stress in your life, it may be even more effective when combined with direct action to prevent or channel such stress in a less negative way. It may be possible, not to mention mutually beneficial, to achieve a healthier level of communication with your boss, spouse, or work colleagues… just don’t hold your breath on it!

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